MANATEE -- A statewide prescription drug database launched this week may be an important tool in combating prescription drug abuse in Bradenton, local officials and medical practitioners say.
The Electronic Florida Online Reporting of Controlled Substances Evaluation program, also known as E-FORCSE, requires dispensers, by state law, to submit all controlled substance prescription records to the database. Doctors can then access E-FORCSE to view patients’ controlled substance histories.
“I’m optimistic it’s going to be hugely beneficial,” Dr. Raymon D. Priewe said.
Priewe, medical director of the Pain Medicine Institute in Bradenton, said he hasn’t been able to use the system yet because it was “overwhelmed” with information on Tuesday and wasn’t working. But once it’s up and running, he said, Florida will see results within a few weeks.
About 5,219 dispensers have uploaded more than 15 million prescription records into the system statewide, Florida Department of Health spokeswoman Jennifer Hirst said.
The database will help doctors spot patients who are “doctor shopping,” or scheduling appointments with different clinics to obtain controlled substance prescriptions.
Dispensers such as pharmacists began inputting information into E-FORCSE on Sept. 1. Hirst said dispensers are required to submit medical records within seven days of providing a controlled substance to a patient.
The department is also encouraging dispensers to input information from December 2010 through August, but it is not mandatory, Hirst said. Dispensers must have all the data from that period into the system by Nov. 30.
Head pharmacist Soni Patel said Bayshore Pharmacy in Bradenton uploaded hundreds of records dating from December.
Inputting information, she said, “doesn’t take a long time. We are happy to do it.”
But there’s room for improvement, Patel said. She would like to know if the data Bayshore uploaded into E-FORCSE has made a difference in spotting a patient with a prescription drug abuse problem.
“We don’t know what’s going on or what are the benefits,” Patel said.
Manatee Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dave Bristow said prescription drug abuse in Bradenton has worsened through the years. The sheriff’s office has seen it all, he said, from homicides involving prescription drugs to the arrests of people who have controlled substances illegally.
“We’ve had crackdowns where we arrested a bunch of people in one time,” Bristow said. “It’s a problem all over the state and really all over the country, and we’ve had a fair share of it here.”
Sharon Kramer, director of the Manatee County Substance Abuse Coalition, said E-FORCSE is a “good step” against prescription drug abuse.
“It protects the community from having the proliferation of drug abuse that we’ve had with prescription drugs,” Kramer said.
But more action needs to be taken to fight the nationwide epidemic, Kramer said, adding, “It’s an exciting tool, but it’s just a tool.”